Letters to the Editor
Elderly Individuals With Developmental Disabilities and the Office Visit
To the Editor,
Thank you for the excellent article, “Elderly Individuals With Developmental Disabilities and the Office Visit,” that appeared in the May 2011 issue of Clinical Geriatrics.1 It is certainly true that aging adults with developmental disabilities need attentive, well-planned, and evidence-based care from primary care providers. Interestingly, the author of this Clinical Geriatrics article is a nurse practitioner. As a nurse working with individuals with developmental disabilities, I have often found that nurse practitioners are excellent providers of primary care in this population.
Individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities are often recipients of a fragmented system of healthcare services. With that in mind, healthcare providers might also find it valuable to inquire whether the patient and his or her caregiver have been seen in an emergency room or self-referred to any new medical specialty consultant since their last visit to the provider.
The author of this Clinical Geriatrics article provides a sound overview of areas that should be touched upon by providers during a typical office visit with a patient with developmental disabilities. It would be most helpful to consider future articles that provide more in-depth focus on particular areas of concern, including home safety concerns related to changes in a patient’s self-care skills (possibly due to neurosensory changes) and the education of the individual and caregivers regarding health promotion and lifestyle management. Additionally, inquiries regarding dental health and swallowing safety may provide valuable insight into the healthcare needs of patients with developmental disabilities.
Medical providers who serve individuals with developmental disabilities may find that, as with other patients seen in their practice, collaboration with other healthcare practitioners and community caregivers is necessary to achieve good outcomes when caring for persons with complex, chronic conditions.
Clinical Geriatrics has periodically published articles focused on older adults with developmental disabilities. Much appreciation and praise is due to the publication for continuing to bring attention to this often underserved population, and to the author of this recent Clinical Geriatrics article for highlighting specific areas that practitioners would be well served to address during office visits.
The author reports no relevant financial relationships.
1. Simmons-Romano M. Elderly individuals with developmental disabilities and the office visit. Clinical Geriatrics. 2011;19(5):52-56.